Or: Weingreen English-Hebrew Translation, Exercise 31, Number 6
I’ve mentioned before that we are doing English-to-Hebrew translation exercises from Weingreen’s A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew as entertainment, not as a formal study. I figured that I would post the exercise that I have just posted on B-Hebrew and give you some insight into what goes into my thinking when I produce my translations. You are free to comment and let me know if you agree or disagree with my decisions and why.
Here’s the text of the drill:
Wow, that’s a long one! I tend to tackle the translation phrase-by-phrase, so I’ll start with the first phrase and work through it slowly and deliberately.
«And it came to pass as Jacob was crossing the river…»
And it came to pass generally translates the vav-consecutive of הָיָה, so that we start with the common and simple וַיְהִי. We are then told by Weingreen that he wants us to use an infinitive construct for as Jacob was crossing, so I’ll just add כַּעֲבֹר יַעֲקֹב אֶת־הַנָּהָר, literally, “according to the crossing of Jacob the river.” This completes the first phrase for us:
וַיְהִי כַּעֲבֹר יַעֲקֹב אֶת־הַנָּהָר
«… that a man fought with him all the night until the morning.»
Again, Weingreen tells us what he expects us to use: a vav-consecutive. In this case, we have a few options for “fight.” We can use the niphal נִלְחַם (vav-consec: וַיִּלָ֫חֶם [cp. Ex. 17:8]) in which we can render “with him” in three ways: אִתּוֹ, עִמּוֹ, or בּוֹ. All three are used of enemies in a fight in the Bible. So, one option for that a man fought with him would be וַיִּלָ֫חֶם אִתּוֹ אִישׁ.
However, we know that Jacob was actually wrestling with the angel, not really fighting (making war) with him. Hebrew has different terms for fighting, depending on if we mean “arguing” (הִתְוַכֵּחַ), “wrestling” (נֶאֱבַק), or “making war” (נִלְחַם). For wrestling, I would choose the appropriate verb and form the vav-consecutive with it: וַיֵּאָבֵק. When we search for the term on STEPBible, we see that this form is indeed used in the passage in which Jacob wrestled with the angel. This is clearly the correct direction, and we’ll complete the phrase with all the night until the morning, which is simply כָּל־הַלַּ֫יְלָה עַד־הַבֹּ֫קֶר. Thus, we have the completed phrase, which we will add to our previous phrase.
וַיְהִי כַּעֲבֹר יַעֲקֹב אֶת־הַנָּהָר וַיֵּאָבֵק אִתּוֹ אִישׁ כָּל־הַלַּ֫יְלָה עַד־הַבֹּ֫קֶר
The period will be interpreted here as the end of a verse, so I’ll put sof-pasuk (׃) after this phrase and begin a new “verse” with the next vav-consecutive verb.
«And the man said unto him, ‘Let me go (Piel of שׁלח), for I am an angel of God’…»
The first verb here is and he said, which is really common in the Bible. It’s simply וַיֹּ֫אמֶר, and we will put the indirect object unto him directly after it and before the subject the man: וַיֹּ֫אמֶר אֵלָיו הָאִישׁ. We are then told to use the piel of שׁלח, which means the imperative שַׁלַּח (or שַׁלֵּחַ). Rather than using אֹתִי, we can be more biblical in our style and attach the suffix to the verb, in which case for let me go, we get שַׁלְּחֵ֫נִי “send me forth” or “let me go.” The next is an explanatory phrase introduced with כִּי for, which is followed by a verbless clause I am an angel of God: מַלְאַךְ אֱלֹהִים אָנֹכִי. (Note: מַלְאָךְ is absolute; מַלְאַךְ is construct.) This completes the next phrase, and we add it to the first verse thus:
וַיְהִי כַּעֲבֹר יַעֲקֹב אֶת־הַנָּהָר וַיֵּאָבֵק אִתּוֹ אִישׁ כָּל־הַלַּ֫יְלָה עַד־הַבֹּ֫קֶר׃ וַיֹּ֫אמֶר אֵלָיו הָאִישׁ שַׁלְּחֵ֫נִי כִּי מַלְאַךְ אֱלֹהִים אָנֹכִי
«and Jacob said, ‘I will not let thee go until [עַד־אֲשֶׁר] thou hast blessed me’.»
and Jacob said is again וַיֹּ֫אמֶר יַעֲקֹב. I’m going to take this as a new verse, also. I’ll again use the piel of שׁלח for the phrase I will not let thee go and render it as לֹא אֲשַׁלֵּחֲךָ (that is, לֹא אֲשַׁלֵּחַ אֹתְךָ) and add the time limitation for until thou hast blessed me: עַד־אֲשֶׁר בֵּרַכְתָּ֫נִי. The final word is בֵּרַ֫כְתָּ “you have blessed” with the 1cs suffix for “me.” (Honestly, I accidentally noticed that form when I was looking up the forms of שִׁלֵּחַ before.) We can add this to the whole construction that we have thus far.
וַיְהִי כַּעֲבֹר יַעֲקֹב אֶת־הַנָּהָר וַיֵּאָבֵק אִתּוֹ אִישׁ כָּל־הַלַּ֫יְלָה עַד־הַבֹּ֫קֶר׃ וַיֹּ֫אמֶר אֵלָיו הָאִישׁ שַׁלְּחֵ֫נִי כִּי מַלְאַךְ אֱלֹהִים אָנֹכִי׃ וַיֹּ֫אמֶר יַעֲקֹב לֹא אֲשַׁלֵּחֲךָ עַד־אֲשֶׁר בֵּרַכְתָּ֫נִי׃
«And the angel blessed him and Jacob let him go.»
And the angel blessed him is easy enough: וַיְבָ֫רֶךְ אֹתוֹ הַמַּלְאָךְ. And Jacob let him go uses the same piel of שׁלח, but this time in the vav-consecutive: וַיְשַׁלַּח אֹתוֹ יַעֲקֹב. Again, I added the 3ms suffixes to make it seem older. The entire composition is now completed, and this is how it looks:
וַיְהִי כַּעֲבֹר יַעֲקֹב אֶת־הַנָּהָר וַיֵּאָבֵק אִתּוֹ אִישׁ כָּל־הַלַּ֫יְלָה עַד־הַבֹּ֫קֶר׃ וַיֹּ֫אמֶר אֵלָיו הָאִישׁ שַׁלְּחֵ֫נִי כִּי מַלְאַךְ אֱלֹהִים אָנֹכִי׃ וַיֹּ֫אמֶר יַעֲקֹב לֹא אֲשַׁלֵּחֲךָ עַד־אֲשֶׁר בֵּרַכְתָּ֫נִי׃ וַיְבָֽרְכֵ֫הוּ הַמַּלְאָךְ וַיְשַׁלְּחֵ֫הוּ יַעֲקֹב׃
Note on markings: I use meteg only to mark kamats as long. Technically, you should use it on any long vowel that is followed by vocal sheva (אֹֽמְרִים) and on long vowels that resist reduction in distant syllables (as in הָֽאֲנָשִׁים), but it’s really only necessary to help the reader recognize that kamats should be read as a rather than as o. I also use the oleh to mark stressed syllables. Sometimes I like to put a pausal form where I think it might be nice to place it, in which case I will generally use either etnachta (וַיְדַבֵּ֑רוּ) or zakef katon (וַיְדַבֵּ֔רוּ), both in contrast to the regular form with the vowel reduction (וַיְדַבְּרוּ).
This is the submission that I will make on B-Hebrew. I hope you enjoyed my thought process. Anything you’d do differently?